Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 24, 1636-1639. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.
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October 1637, 21-25
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
323. The secretary of the English ambassador came to the
door of the Collegio and said to me, the Secretary that his master
had received some advices, and thought of coming in person
to impart them to his Serenity, but fearing to inconvenience him
be sent them in writing, judging them to be of some importance.
He handed me a sheet, which I took to his Serenity, who ordered
it to be read. He also ordered an answer to be made to the
secretary, thanking the ambassador.
Advices from Vienna of the 10th October.
The Swedes, exhausted by war are disposed to peace and an accommodation with the house of Austria. Casimir, brother of the King of Poland, is about to marry the heiress of the kingdom of Sweden, on condition that the King of Poland abandons his claims to that crown, and that it is recognised by the emperor as a crowned head, about which that Court will raise no difficulty. That the Swedes shall be satisfied with a great sum of money for divers expenses on the war, and in order that they may keep some ports and places in Pomerania, the Spaniards will undertake to satisfy the duke there. They are very anxious to enter again into treaty with the King of Great Britain for the settlement of the Palatinate. This is confirmed by the news from England that the Spanish ambassador has proposed to that king to send his ambassadors to Brussels where the Cardinal Infant has full powers for the adjustment of that affair ; but that king has made no reply, being too deeply offended by past affairs. Duke Bernard of Vaimar, having an unsatisfactory union with the French, is treating for an accommodation with the King of Hungary, but very secretly. Nothing more is said about the departure of the Prince of Ecembergh for Rome.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
324. To the Ambassador in England.
Incidents are frequently occurring which make it necessary for justice to take note against the people of the Ambassador Fielding. After the one of the Piazza, in which we showed our usual good will, as you will have made appear to the public service, an arquebus has been fired at San Moise by a servant of this ambassador, mortally wounding a man and causing great commotion. The barques of the officials hastened to the spot to prevent disorder and do their duty. On being informed of this the Chiefs of the Council of Ten sent one of their secretaries to the ambassador to inform him of the event, and ask him to hand over the man who committed the crime, to prove what he had often professed, that he did not shelter or encourage such persons. He told the secretary that the servant had already been dismissed. The case was merely what you will see from the enclosed exposition which he made in the Collegio this morning, when he also made a mild complaint against the officials. Since then the Council of Ten has had the man arrested, with the decision of which we send a copy. This will all serve to enlighten you, so that you may speak with your customary prudence when you hear the matter discussed, when you will point out our excellent disposition and the respect we have shown towards the ambassador, with occasions for offence and scandal constantly multiplying, and the necessity for taking action in this matter, where a detestable weapon was carried by day loaded and cocked. We are making no further reply to the ambassador at present, as delay is more dignified and of greater service to the state. (fn. 1)
The same ambassador, after thanking us very heartily for the release of the sailor, guilty of an important breach of the sanitary laws, sent his secretary with the enclosed sheet of advices. This will show you that you had very good grounds for what you wrote about the intrigues of the queen mother and the measures taken by her in the interests of religion in Scotland to exclude or remove rigour from the transactions and conclusions between that crown and France. You will carefully observe what further troubles and disturbances arise in this matter.
Ayes, 78. Noes, 2. Neutral, 4
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
325. The Ambassador of the King of Great Britain came into
the Collegio and spoke as follows :
I have hardly had time to enjoy your last favour before another incident has occurred to perturb me and bring me here to represent what has happened. I am sure you will purge away all contrary thoughts, although I myself cannot be satisfied with what I have seen recently in this cause, against my house, without regard to the honour of myself or my king. One of the secretaries of the Council of Ten came to my house yesterday, I do not know his name, to ask me to hand over to justice a certain person who had caused some disorder. You will have heard what I said, but I wished it to be known from my own lips. One of my men went to take two pistols to be repaired. He happened to meet a friend, and they began to lark about and to try the pistol, when owing to the defect for which it was sent for repair, it went off and hit a poor boatman who was behind. Although I knew this was a pure accident, I dismissed the servant immediately, as I did with the two footmen, dismissing one and punishing the other, as it is right to be inexorable in such cases, because I wish to cultivate the good relations with my king, although all sorts of misfortunes occur to render it difficult. What I lament on this occasion is that my house was immediately surrounded and practically besieged by boats of officials, and one boat, full of arms, muskets, falconets and so forth, stood still as if it was moored to it, an offence against the immunities of ambassadors. They all seemed ready to attack the house of a king who has such friendly relations with your Serenity, a king who has such confidence in your Serenity that if he had no other enemies he would entrust his arms, ships and vassals to you, one who will allow his men and ships to come and serve the republic, a king who sent me here to foster friendly and confidential relations. I cannot think that your Serenity ordered this, because I know your good will ; but meanwhile I have suffered all the prejudices. My house has been made the mark of all the indiscretions of the officials, surrounded and menaced. When I write to England I should like to continue to report acts of confidence.
The doge replied, Yesterday morning we suddenly heard, and the report circulated throughout the city, that shots had been fired at S. Moise, that is, at the mouth of the Piazza. Justice requires that the officials should hasten to the place where a tumult takes place. This is what happened, and no orders were given to attack your house or to cause you any offence. We love you and desire to give you every satisfaction, as we have always shown. Our affectionate esteem for his Majesty is patent. You should not object but be glad that justice is on the alert when shots are heard, wounds given and people run together. The Avogador was there and drew up the process in the usual way. He tried to obtain information, and you may be sure that no undue prejudice will be caused. The presence of the officials on the spot was not meant to prejudice you. The republic wishes to remove scandals but that every honour shall be shown to the ambassador.
The ambassador replied, I take comfort at hearing from your Serenity's lips that these acts were not intended to prejudice me or to offend my house. I thank you and hope that such an answer will come to me that I shall be able to satisfy the very delicate and jealous ear of my king, as I promise myself from your Serenity's kindness. I assure you that these frequent occasions for coming to annoy your Serenity are a torment to me, but I beg you to consider my sincerety and to give me a reply which will in no way disturb the confidential relations. The doge said they would not fail to do what was right and proper. He then bowed and went out.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
326. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
I went to my public audience last Sunday, accompanied by the Earl of Denbigh, in the king's coach, followed by many others and a large company of cavaliers. On being introduced to their Majesties, who received me most graciously, I duly performed the office of leave taking, making the proper compliments to the king. He responded with the most cordial expressions towards the republic, and of his desire to give proof of it. I responded by announcing the coming of Giustinian from Spain.
I turned to the queen and performed the proper office with her, to which she also responded expressing her constant affection for the republic.
After the compliments the king spoke of the present state of Italy, saying that the death of the Duke of Mantua might rekindle serious disturbances. He seemed very sorry about it, both because of the esteem he said he had always had for that prince and because of the evil consequences. I assure you, said he, that I consider the interests of Italy and those of Venice in particular as my own, and I shall miss no opportunity of showing myself their good friend.
Two days after the Master of the Ceremonies intimated that his Majesty intended to honour me as had been customary with other Venetian ministers at their departure ; so I went again to a private audience. When I entered he chose to dub me knight, with the usual ceremony, an honour I value solely in my capacity as servant of the state.
As instructed, I introduced to his Majesty the Secretary Zonca, who will act here until Giustinian arrives, as he did after Sig. Gussoni left, in a manner that won him great repute here. At the private audience I had occasion to speak with his Majesty about current affairs of Christendom, as I shall relate in the next despatch. I shall now try to discharge the rest of my visits as speedily as possible ; this will involve some delay, but I ask you to believe that this is unavoidable owing to the distance away of the ministers, the difficulty of finding them and the shortness of the days, as my own desires and interests concur in hastening my departure from this kingdom.
Richmond, the 23rd October, 1637.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
327. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
The arrival of the news of a serious defeat of the Spaniards in Languedoc and of the succour received by the French at Leucate, (fn. 2) with the reverses of the Austrians everywhere have led to a discussion in the king's most secret Council as to whether they should take advantage of circumstances to obtain something definite for the Palatine from the Spaniards, who so greatly desire their friendship here in their own interests. There was much debate and many opinions about how they could introduce the matter honourably, but all seem to have agreed that the way of sound negotiation was better than the troublesome and costly one of war, from the uncertainties of which they think it wise to keep aloof as much as possible, seeing the uncertainty of the alliance with the Most Christian, which he has not yet signed and the allies have not ratified, and with Scotland so disturbed. Nothing is settled, but the result may be guessed from their past lukewarmness about the Palatine's fleet, and giving men to Prince Rupert to go with him to Germany, while the way in which the rumours have been allowed to die away suffices to indicate the result.
The Spanish ambassador observes everything and says nothing, being the more ready to embrace an opportunity for instituting some profitable negotiations. Although his private interests make it rather necessary for him not to appear at Court, he told me seriously that if he became aware of an opportunity he would go gladly and wait for another time to speak of his affairs. These remain as they were ; the money has not been restored to him and they claim the payment of the rest. He does not press his interests too much, waiting for directions from Spain, to act more safely.
The Polish ambassador persists eagerly in the attack he began again at Windsor for his reception. To facilitate this he says he will not speak of the marriage but of other matters touching the public weal. The Earl of Arundel and the Secretary Coke strongly support him, trying to induce the king to receive him. They say he may do so with dignity, seeing that a public affront has already been put upon him and the subjects on which he may speak have been restricted. The king, however, remains very determined, saying that he has the best reasons for not desiring any correspondence with the King of Poland ; but those who know his character believe that he will ultimately yield to the persuasions of his ministers. Events will soon show which is right.
Since the capture of Sale and other positions in Africa the King of Morocco has sent 370 slaves here mostly English, who were subject to those pirates. He first gave them all clothes and paid their expenses of transport. This has pleased his Majesty exceedingly and will serve to establish a solid friendship and trade with that state.
As your Serenity's letters of the 25th ult. with the English ambassador's exposition about the alliance with the Most Christian reached me before my last audience of his Majesty, I thought it well to thank him on behalf of your Excellencies for the confidential information, and particularly for the concern he showed for the welfare of Italy. His Majesty replied that he wished your Excellencies to be kept fully informed of his intentions and operations. He spoke especially of his concern for Mantua, for whose protection your Serenity was a sure bulwark. I thanked him and told him that your steadfast aim was to secure the peace of Italy. His Majesty asked me to write to the Signory what he had said and I promised to do so. His Majesty then went on to speak of private matters, and that over, I took my final leave. From the way in which he spoke I was able to perceive much more clearly that he is very unsettled in his mind, observing the course of current events, anxious to have some share in them, but afraid of the surprises and dangers of war, in which he will certainly do his utmost not to involve himself (havendo anco dal modo del suo parlare rimarcato e conosciuto molto piu chiaro star ella con animo molto sospeso osservando gl'eventi delle cose correnti, bramar haver qualche parte in essi ma temer gl'incontri ed il cimento della guerra in cui certo fara tutto per non impegnarsi.)
Richmond, the 24th October, 1637.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
328. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Spain,
to the Doge and Senate.
Levies have been granted of 3000 Irish. This affords just grounds for consideration whether this has been done through connivance or by the deliberate complacency of England.
1000 crowns a month have been assigned to the Duchess of Chevreuse for the time of her stay in Spain. The person sent to her by his Majesty has returned. They have sent a Franciscan friar to Saragossa to bring her to the Court, whence she will proceed to England, to plant her foot there.
Madrid, the 24th October, 1637.
Senato, Secreta. Relazioni Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
329. Relation of England of Anzolo Correr. (fn. 3)
As I am going to the embassy in France, it seemed to me that instead of giving a long relation of England and France on my return, I might give your Excellencies now a brief and compendious account of the present state of affairs in this kingdom, to avoid wearying you then and also escape the danger that changing circumstances after my departure may render it useless and out of date. I therefore take leave to say :
Charles the first of his name, King of Great Britain, was born in 1600 and is therefore in the flower of his age. Nature may thus be expected to give him a free course, subject only to those chances from which princes are the less exempt because they venture more than private persons in the game of fortune. The account I shall give your Serenity is of things that are in being at the present time, and if they are to serve as a guide to the future I hope it may not be considered a fault if time shows them to be mistaken in some respects. The future is only present to God, and conjecture is only a shadow of His rays granted to human reason, under conditions which make it impossible to locate it in any position at will. Thus if it is difficult to light on the truth at any time in the actions of princes, it is certainly so in the case of his Majesty, because he has changed the principles by which his predecessors reigned, and one can only examine future events in the mist of appearances, and cannot see if the road he has taken will lead him to absolute royalty, which is definitely the goal he has set himself, because the limited sovereignty, restricted by the laws and by disorder, was plotted against by his subjects in an indiscreet and ill advised manner, thus putting him under the courageous necessity of extricating himself from their tutelage. The task is certainly difficult, but if it succeeds it is the greatest and most glorious that a prince ever took up, even if he is compared with the most celebrated kings of England, the glory of a prince consisting no less in prudence and good counsel in time of peace than in valorous action in war.
Since the transfer of the crown to the house of Scotland England seems to have changed so much that not only their dress and habits but their humours and sympathies are entirely different. Whereas in times past they acted as a counterpoise to balance the power of Christian princes, they do not now seem inclined to take an interest in anything apart from themselves, unless it be so far as the interests of the Palatine compel them to do so, and even then on the score of reputation, as I shall show in due course.
Thus a people that once was fierce, fond of liberty, lavish and warlike, has become meek, closefisted, submissive and pacific, proving that the world conforms to the example of those who rule it. Because the late king wishing to lay the foundations of peace by introducing lavishness in dress, the table and pleasures, caused his subjects to become so immersed in these that they have given up not only the exercises but the love of war. Accustomed to ease in such a fruitful country, they are reluctant to be taken elsewhere to seek the honours of war, which are just now little esteemed in their country, at the cost of misery and toil. A pernicious innovation, but one that does not abolish natural characteristics, which are not so easily lost. Daily experience shows that the English troops in the Netherlands still fight with the same valour that they showed two hundred years and more ago against the French, and in the days of Queen Elizabeth against the Spaniards in Ireland, and in France for Henry IV against the league.
This innovation of the late king was not fortuitous, but because he hated war and did not wish his people to love it ; and he would have removed the name as well as the sentiment if he had been able. Thus if his position had not helped him he would have found himself badly off in the upheavals which ensued, since he would have run the risk of perishing himself with the loss of military reputation.
The present king, although born with very different characteristics from his father, has encountered circumstances which make him follow the same rules. He is pacific, but by necessity, as certain indications show his inclination for war. He would make it if he had not been compelled to abandon the idea to avoid subjecting himself to the indiscretion of his subjects. He is not prodigal like his father, but neither is he illiberal, when the limits of his treasury are not the cause. He has no vices or lusts, he is just but is rather severe and serious than familiar. He does not grant pardons readily, except in matters of life and death, provided the case is not extreme. He handles arms like a knight and his courser like a riding master. He is not subject to amours, and since the death of the Duke of Buckingham he has had no favourites. He selects his ministers not from affection but from his opinion of their capacity. He is extreme in nothing, except that he persists with his sentiments, and anyone whom he has once detested may be sure that he will never recover his favour. He has literary erudition without ostentation, possessing what befits a king. He inherits two things from his father, namely hunting and the aversion not to say hostility of the people. This is well known to be the final guide of his movements, the sole reason which makes him pacific, and the touchstone which will declare whether he is doing well or ill. As he has given up governing by parliament, as his predecessors did, it remains to be seen if he will go on and if he will be able to do by the royal authority what former kings did by the authority of the realm. This is a difficult matter and the more perilous, seeing that if it be true that the estates are perturbed about the two great causes of religion and the diminution of the liberty of the people, he has perturbed both, and will be very fortunate if he does not fall into some great upheaval. I will set forth both to your Serenity after I have described the nature and prerogatives of parliament, a thing which must be known first.
The authority of parliament resembles to some extent the diets of Germany and Poland and the assembly of the estates in other kingdoms. It is composed of prelates, lords and deputies from the towns and country who have a voice in it by privilege. It is very ancient and its most extreme defenders make it as old as the kingdom. Enough for us that the present line of kings dates back to William the Conqueror, who by conquest destroyed all liberty. He maintained this absolutism over all those who came with him from Normandy, who could only build their fortunes on those of the native English who could only be ousted by destroying their liberties and laws. Thus the king and his successors became absolute. But in the course of time the Normans from being foreigners, became natives and chafed at the yoke which their fathers had put on of their own accord. Thus no sooner did the kingdom become disturbed by. the usurpation of certain unlawful kings than they seized the opportunity to shake off the yoke. They made terms with the kings and gained many privileges from one and another which reduced the previous absolute authority of the crown.
While these privileges, if not abused, would serve to check the disordered passions and caprices of tyrants, they would have constituted the most perfect monarchy in the universe. But in maintaining them they sought to increase them, bringing royalty into subjection, and in avoiding the tyranny of kings, arrived at the point of being tyrants themselves. It is true that although the kings lost their original power they did not become so feeble after these concessions had been violently wrenched from them, as not to preserve the reins of authority to bridle this liberty, because parliament never meets but at their command, its deliberations are invalid unless confirmed by them, and if they do not do what the king desires, he dissolves them. This is a good expedient to prevent them from excess, but one that involves harm as well as good. Thus if the king asks for subsidies, he cannot have them if parliament does not vote them, and it will not do so if it is not satisfied. It never meets without asking for something, and things once granted serve as laws for future concessions. It makes laws and in doubtful cases interprets them. It judges everything, censures councillors, calls tribunals to account and especially punishes those who have violated the laws out of submission to the king, if the king is weak enough to permit it.
But in my opinion nothing is more extravagant than their claim to grant the king for life the duties on exports and imports. This pure prerogative of princes the kings of England have only enjoyed if granted on their accession. The grant to their predecessor does not include the successor, but each king has to obtain it personally, with the duty of maintaining a force to secure trade, for which purpose it was anciently given. This rule was observed with all, but not with the present king, because by dissolving his parliament in disgust, the grant of the duty, which had already passed, was dissolved. The people were deceived in thinking that the merchants would force a new parliament by not paying, as the king has not only levied the duties like his predecessors, but has added a fresh impost, increasing them by 80,000l. sterling, or 480,000 ducats of the currency, a question on which they are more aggrieved than about many others.
The hardness shown by them led to the change in the old principles of government, and to inventing ways of getting on without parliaments. According to them this is impossible, as the king's father left him more than 1,200,000l. sterling of debts, and he became indebted for more than 400,000l. in addition over the expeditions of Spain and Rochelle, and there was no way in which he could obtain relief except by parliament, because by the laws he could not compel them, much less force them by arms, as the force resided in themselves. This was the reason, while Buckingham was alive and even later, they were treating about bringing men at arms from Germany, a dangerous plan, calculated to make the kingdom revolt, as it was not possible to hire enough troops to keep it under, and considering the few individuals to be put down by him without difficulty (e le poche soggette con niuna difficolta ad essere costrette da lui). Accordingly the king, moving slowly through these rocks but steadfast in his determination, thought of opening the door by the key of the laws, and so proceed to absolute authority without opposition, as he is doing. Having shaken off his fears he has had the laws interpreted in his favour by the lawyers of the realm, assembled for the purpose, there being no parliament to say him nay, and as private persons cannot refuse what is demanded according to the law, he has succeeded in raising large sums of money. Having thus paved the way to absolute authority by the laws and while the people were still stupified thereby, he set out to lay upon them not casual charges, but perpetual yearly taxes by virtue of his royal authority, to wit upon hops, which are used to make beer, wine, taverns, tobacco, coal, soap, etc. which added together amount to a very large sum. Thus while at his accession he had a revenue of 500,000l. sterling or little more, he now has 800,000l., and if he goes on he will exceed the million in a short time.
Some consider that his Majesty ought to rest content with these advantages, without going further, as important actions require corresponding causes ; but he has thought differently, and wants to strike the iron while it is hot. He has made up his mind upon two points, and if he carries these he will encounter no further difficulties. The first is to make all the houses of the kingdom, in towns and out, pay a tax in proportion to fortune and titles for the maintenance of the fleet, which costs more than 200,000l. sterling a year. The other is the matter of the forests.
As for the tax, this is the third year of payment. Many have refused to pay it and from these they have taken pledges, without taking criminal proceedings or exacting more serious penalties. Even if they did those who will not pay would not mind, their object being to make it known that they have not consented to pay. They attach themselves to the laws as to an asylum and dispute the question under the protection of these, their sole aim being that the laws may be seen to be violated and they themselves acting under compulsion.
The question of the forests is at once more difficult and more odious. It seems to be a question of depriving men of their property which they have held for many centuries, without the crown raising any claim. The royal claims are that the forests belong to him, and the counties, except three, having all been forests for the most part, they ought to make restitution to him, with penalties for having usurped and enjoyed them for so many years, penalties which no one in the world could possibly pay. The people on their side say that this question was raised by other kings, that the forests which were granted for money by the conqueror were demanded back by John, Henry III, and Edward II and Edward III, who were pacified by a fresh money composition in perpetuity. But when his Majesty demanded the deeds few or none of them had any, and the transactions with the kings in question, which ought to be found in the registers of the realm in the Tower of London, are not found there, the kings being accused of having had them burned. This suit has not yet been promoted with the county of Essex, from fear that if everything was thrown into disorder they might revolt, but for the only composition which has yet been made in part they require 300,000l. sterling to settle it. As there are twentynine other persons in the same position the people would be ruined by it and the crown enriched. It is unlikely, however, that the king will ever go so far as this, as he knows the danger very well, and he will not forget the example of Henry III who suffered such prolonged disasters and troubles for this cause in what was called the Barons' Wars.
These are the main causes which render the people disaffected, to such a pitch, that if they had leaders, which they have not, it would be impossible to quiet them.
The secondary causes, which from all appearances seem more likely than the others to disturb the felicity which this pacific kingdom at present enjoys, are about religion. As this was introduced into England for mundane reasons and by authority of the state, it is not astonishing that they found it easy in a very few years to pass four times from one side to the other without those upheavals of the state which happen when such changes are due to rooted opinions and cultivated by the persuasion of private individuals. In spite of this, England has never been able to secure conformity to a single faith, or to avoid the difficulties caused by a multiplicity of factions, as elsewhere. The Catholics who clung to the ancient faith were at once opposed to the new one. The others, with no reasons of state to move them or inquisition to bridle them, and divided even among themselves, have developed a third party. This is formed of the bulk of the people, of the lesser nobility, of some of the bishops and not a few of these lords who either from detestation of the servitude or because they are offended have not access to the Court. Taking the doctrines of Calvin as a basis, for the reform of bishops and parliaments, as too liable to approach the Roman faith, they have gradually become utterly opposed, desiring worship to be stripped of the ceremonies and prayers retained in the ancient liturgy, and performed in its purity, as they put it, that is without a vestige of the old institutions, so that they abominate the rites observed in the churches of the Protestants hardly less than the mass itself.
If they were content to stop there they would not be so hateful and dangerous as they are. But they became contumacious against the king and against the bishops also, writing against both, as if it were possible to live in civil affairs without a magistrate or in spiritual without a hierarchy ; so the late King James, who had experienced in Scotland the insolence of the Puritans (so called in derision of their pretended purity), declared himself their open enemy, considering them the servants of schism in the spiritual and of rebellion in the civil. As he had replaced in Scotland the bishops, altars, organs and other similar things, he might possibly have stamped out the Puritans in England, if he had had time, relieving the kingdom of the dangers that threaten it. Careful examination shows that this is the sole cause why the present king cultivates the Roman faith so much, because he introduces into the Protestant churches ceremonies which conform to that more and more. But the results are very different from his Majesty's intentions, because the more the bishops dress themselves out with the new constitutions, the more the Puritans cling to the bareness of their worship and what is worse, many of the Protestants themselves, scandalised by the new institutions, become Puritans from fear of falling into Catholicism if they follow them.
At all events such a contest is not without its advantage for the Catholic faith, because the division not only prevents the opposite from propagating but is an inducement to many to become reconciled with the Roman, which has no division in itself. Thus the king, standing between one side and the other, is constantly making fresh enemies, some seeking the democratic state which does not exist, others the monarchy, which exists, but is the Spanish one. Although the Catholics are not divided upon the essentials of the faith yet they have disputes among themselves, especially about accepting or not in good conscience the oath of fealty. Some think that the pope can absolve them from it, and dispense them from the subjection due to their natural lord, which means in a word that he has the authority to depose princes. Others hold the contrary. A great part of the religious and the Jesuits in particular agree with the first and many with the second, while all claim to have their consciences free, the article being problematical, as the Church has not yet made a definite statement.
The coming of the bishop of Chalcedon was the cause of another division. He was sent to England four years ago with an apostolic brief. (fn. 4) All the Regulars, including the Jesuits, revolted against him, and as books appeared contumelious not only against him but against the episcopal order, the Sorbonne condemned them at Paris, and the pope decided on sending Sig. Gregorio Panzani, doctor and priest of the Oratory, to put an end to the disputes. There were many reasons by which they justified their contumacy against the pope's commands and writs. One of these was that they had lived quietly in England without bishops, and the appointment of one had only served to arouse fresh persecution ; because he wished to set up an ecclesiastical tribunal and they could not accept this without falling into the penalty of treason, since the innovation was against the laws and the practices of the ordinary tribunals of the realm. They added that bishops were only necessary for the ordination of priests, and that was not required in England whose priests were ordained beyond the sea. But neither these nor numerous other reasons adduced by them, with which I will not abuse the patience of your Excellencies, could conceal their real artfulness, as time and experience clearly showed that they opposed the bishop in order to avoid correction and reform, of which they stand in great need, to restrain the scandalous licence with which many of them live, and that they might continue alone to govern despotically the consciences, affairs and actions of the Catholics, as the Jesuits do in particular.
Panzani's negotiations were very far from what he was supposed to have come for. Having been well received by the king and queen, he did not lack the means of insinuating himself with any one he required. He selected two great personages of opposite parties, whom he visited frequently, one a friend of the bishops, so that he might have a friendly understanding with them through him, the other an enemy, to escape the hatred and jealousy of those who do not love them. (fn. 5) His first request was for a promise to establish a Catholic bishop, a subject of his Majesty and nominated by him, and only to act in conformity with orders which his Majesty should lay down beforehand. Although they did not like the demand, yet upon reflection they asked if a bishop would be admitted who considered the oath of fealty lawful, or would at least tolerate it, but when Panzani replied that he had no instructions about this, the matter fell through. However discussion was not discontinued, the question being an important one, indeed the bishops intimated to him soon afterwards that the king would have declared that he did not intend the oath to prejudice the spiritual authority, as he only claimed from his subjects the fealty to which they were bound by God and Nature. If he had been able he would even have changed it, removing some words, although there were none, derogatory to the spiritual authority, but as parliament had drawn it up, only they could alter it. Panzani replied that his Majesty was king, and without prejudicing the intentions of parliament they might change the words without altering the sense.
But it is impossible to find any real solution in things which are mutually destructive, as with the subject binding himself to fealty by the oath, and the king wishing it unalterable and free, the pope cannot permit it consistently with the maintenance of his authority, except subject to a reservation about his right to depose the king and to absolve his subjects from their oath. The bishops hoped to overcome this difficulty for two reasons, one because many Catholic doctors, in spite of papal bulls, maintained its lawfulness in speech and in writing, the other because they thought the hope of reconciliation should persuade the pope to yield a point which they believe just, in conscience. But they are mistaken, because the pope sees that which is, and accordingly does not hope for what cannot be, esteeming any union hurtful under any laws but the old ones, because once these are removed or weakened, the superiority he exercises over others is also removed or weakened, since princes must all be measured with the same compass.
It is at any rate worthy of remark that these two courts of Rome and England, which for so many years have had no other commerce, but hostilities, should have unexpectedly come together at the first bound, the time and the disposition of their princes as well as their interests having induced them to meet, without precautions, intermediaries or negotiation. I am persuaded that the first overtures date from the time when the king as prince had occasion to treat about Spain at Rome for the dispensation for his marriage with the Infanta, who is now empress. His subsequent marriage with a princess of France, as a Catholic whom he loves greatly, has confirmed him in it. His Holiness has appreciated the good treatment of Catholic subjects so that whereas Englishmen were previously in great danger in Rome, they are now as safe there as in their own country. Finally the residence of Panzani at this Court and of Hamilton at Rome as agent of the queen with the pope, make their relations appear such that the Protestants of other nations and the Puritans of England have good cause for suspicion, and the world for expectation.
I will try to state briefly what negotiations have taken place for the complete reconciliation of the English church with the Roman, and the difficulties that have arisen therefrom, although they would require many sheets for an adequate account. Rome claims to be unable and unwilling to concede anything in the matter, while England will not come to terms without advantages. They indicated to Panzani for this purpose eleven bishops who with a good number of lords, the Court, the two universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the Protestants who were not squeamish (non Scrupulosi) were to carry the matter through, if the pope, on his side, in proportion as they abandoned their old opinions, gave in on some of his own, to meet them. Those which the English were willing to embrace were that the Roman is the true church ; the pope is superior to the bishops and it pertains to him to convoke Councils ; that it is lawful to pray for the dead ; altars should be built of stone ; auricular confession should be introduced, but by degrees, to avoid scandal ; finally to believe all that the pope teaches, but not the Roman Court, a distinction which spoils everything. Seeing that he could not make any progress with this point, Panzani let it drop, and asked that a nuncio or agent might reside with the queen, who could treat of this or other matters which might arise. He obtained this, but on condition that the agent was not a priest. They sent Sig. George Coneo, a Scot, canon of St. John Lateran, who renounced the canonicate before leaving Rome. He is full of good qualities, and acquainted with the country and the Court, and so he was very well received. Shortly after his arrival Panzani left. It is difficult to say what Coneo will do. He is a taciturn man and has his drawbacks as a courtier. I fancy two things will injure him, first his ability, which may be read in his face and will certainly rouse the jealousy of that suspicious people, who are always afraid of being deceived ; and then he is too close with the Jesuits, who, in the general opinion, admitted by Panzani himself, in spite of their apparent zeal, are not a whit less opposed to the reconciliation than the Puritans, so that they may not lose any of the influence which they at present enjoy over the Catholics.
As I said before, these negotiations have caused many difficulties, because the bishops, by restoring in their churches some rules of slight moment which had fallen into desuetude, have made the Protestants suspicious and the Puritans desperate. Thus many of the former, out of zeal for their faith have abandoned themselves to Puritanism, while the latter have committed themselves to such fury that a great part of their ministers have been deprived of their benefices for refusing to approve of such regulations. Some have ventured to write books accusing the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Treasurer of undermining religion in order to erect popery on its ruins. These have been most severely punished ; three of the most eloquent (fn. 6) in particular have had their ears cut off, been branded on the forehead, condemned to perpetual imprisonment and forbidden the use of the pen for ever.
When they were before the tribunal and undergoing their punishment, they showed a brazen audacity beyond description. The wisest were disgusted, but the senseless people and those full of the spirit of faction, had compassion on them, to the extent of collecting their blood and exalting their ignominy to the rank of a martyrdom. Soon afterwards the Bishop of Lincoln was severely punished, for having spoken at table against the present government, and written in matters of religion against the dogmas of the archbishop. His punishment, both pecuniary and personal, as he was shut up in the Tower without limit of time, besides a fine of 10,000l. sterling, excited a loud and almost universal clamour, the judges being accused of the most unjust tyranny, and his innocence being upheld with so much freedom that if it goes on some scandalous accident may be feared.
For more than three years this malady has been creeping through the country, and as, according to them, they do not find the air sufficiently propitious, they think of transferring it to America. In that part of the world there is a province called Virginia, between Florida and New France, with a delightful climate. After the English had acquired it in the time of Queen Elizabeth, the late King tried to set up colonies there, although with little success. Now the religious malcontents have cast an eye on it and have crowded thither. They number at present 35,000 souls, and although two-thirds are ordinary folk the remainder are people of rank, who have sold all their possessions and accepted a perpetual exile and voluntary confinement in that place. Such is the power of the violence of a false imagination.
They had no sooner set foot there than they divided into three sects and indulged in the sharpest contests between themselves. The first is that of the Protestants, who observe the rites and the reform of England, but who left from fear that the alleged innovations were intended to introduce Catholicism. The second is that of the Puritans, who do not accept the rites. The third is the Brownists, hostile to the second as not fully purified and most hostile to the first as irretrievably damned. The two first have doctrine and learning, and only sin by interpreting badly ; the last abhors letters, study, learned men, and thinks that ignorance is the only key to Heaven. For this reason their followers have ceased to associate with the others and have withdrawn to New England, which is further north than Virginia, calling it the New Canaan, which to the Hebrews was the land of Promise. They give their sons Jewish names and those of the virtues to their daughters, entirely abandoning those in use among Christians.
The too hasty medicaments of the bishops against the Puritan plague have brought about these disorders, and as others have taken the infection, all have gone past cure. They should have allowed more time for the cure, but they acted in the hope of taking them out of their frenzy, not to change religion or make a reconciliation, as they did not want the former and could not achieve the latter.
The only thing left, since I have briefly touched on all the others, is the affair of the Palatinate. As that concerns the reputation and blood of this crown, I propose to sketch its origin and history in a few sentences, so that the true reasons why this crown should show it special favour may be known. One who superficially considers the actions of Frederick V will doubtless form the opinion that Fortune gave him his deserts and that the deprivation of his dignity and goods was entirely just. But if this were so it is probable that the late King James would not have moved in his favour, although his son in law, as he knew that his intercession could do little with a prince whose interests required the ruin of that house. But the laws which in that case had never been broken in the empire, and which he had not believed the emperor could break, led him to imagine that he would obtain what he expected ; so he undertook to protect the cause, and afterwards pretended he could maintain it, as the present king does, based on reasons which I shall recount.
This Frederick accepted the crown of Bohemia against Ferdinand, as the barons of the kingdom claimed to have the power to depose the latter. But granted that they had not this power and that Frederick was an usurper, the dispute was not with Ferdinand the emperor, but with Ferdinand, King of Bohemia. As the question did not concern the empire, the emperor could not punish a wrong done to the King of Bohemia with the arms of the empire, and after granting everything possible, by the laws of the empire and the Golden Bull, electors cannot be proscribed or judged except by the electoral college and the states of the empire, as their dominions are free and cannot be taken away even if they are guilty of treason, but must devolve on the nearest in blood, as inseparable from the electoral dignity. Thus it is that the electors cannot alienate any part of their dominions, because even their most remote kin are concerned, and may come to enjoy them by the failure of those nearer. That is why their lawyers call such a fief simultaneous, as it includes many, who do not suffer for each other's faults.
A case like this has never occurred in the empire. That of Frederick, Duke of Saxony, deposed by Charles V. is not parallel, as his crime was against the emperor and the empire, and he was proscribed and deprived with the consent of the electoral college, his brother being proscribed with him, while Maurice, as nearest in kin, was invested with the electoral dignity and the dominions inseparable therefrom.
Two electors, Saxony and Brandenburg, opposed as much as they could, first the ban and then, at the diet of Ratisbon, the transfer of the electorate. If they admitted Bavaria to their college, it was because they were deceived, as the emperor promised that it should not affect the preeminence of the electors or the constitution of the empire, because if the sons and other agnates of the Palatine won the dispute, they would be invested with the dignity after Bavaria's death. After they saw everything gone to ruin, with Bavaria invested in perpetuity, they would not insist any more, not feeling strong enough to resist an authority which made its appetites its reasons and its arms its laws, certain that the emperor would treat them like the Palatine at the first opportunity, as he thinks nothing of the greatness of the Protestant princes of Germany, on whose ruin he hopes to lay the foundations of an hereditary empire and Austrian domination. The Catholic faith in speech, and the greatness of the House of Austria in fact are the two poles upon which all this machine revolves. His letters to Rome, Spain etc. chant nothing else. He has always written that the Palatine cannot be reinstated without obvious peril to the Catholic faith and the House of Austria ; the electorate must be given to Bavaria as a bulwark for it, as it has never had worse enemies than the Palatines at any time. He had promised it as early as 1621, on condition that he should give up Austria and retain the Upper Palatinate instead, renouncing all claims as elector to the Lower. This was to be given to the Spaniards to prevent the Dutch and Germany from helping each other ; thus leaving the Spaniards masters in the Netherlands and himself in Germany. A fourth Catholic elector would secure the emperor always being a Catholic, and consequently Austrian, as he would be bound to the house which had promoted him to such an elevated dignity. This shows clearly that in spite of all the promises made to the electors and to the two Kings of Great Britain, Cæsar never meant to do anything but play with them, taking from one and giving to another, contrary to the fundamental laws, which is contrary to human reason, and punishing those not guilty, which is against divine reason, because granted that the Palatine deserved deprivation, his sons and brother did not, while the Duke of Neoburg is a Catholic.
In order that this violent act might prove irrevocable, they dismembered the state, giving Bavaria Heidelberg the seat of the electorate and a good slice of the Lower Palatinate to Bavaria as well as the Upper. The Spaniards had a large part of the rest, the remainder being subdivided among the Archduke Leopold, the Landgrave of Darmstat, the Bishop of Mayence, the Duke of Neoburg, etc.
This is the substance of the Palatine's claims against the emperor, set forth in his manifestoes and published by many writers, who have professed to defend truth and justice, which the Spaniards have resisted with a steadfastness equivalent to his Majesty's declaration that he will support them. I will not take anything from the truth, but let others judge who have the experience and prudence to do so.
Frederick at his death certainly left his son Charles Lewis worse off than himself. While still young that prince no sooner saw hope of restoration through the victories of the King of Sweden, than he lost them by that hero's death, upon which he decided to withdraw to England. Honoured there at the outset with the title of elector and deluded by the flattery of the courtiers, he thought he had really found it. Accordingly he at once devoted himself to negotiation with his councillors, and the matter was discussed at length. Although the experience of eighteen years showed that all means but force were vain, yet the difficulties involved in such a decision made them decide on the last embassy of the Earl of Arundel. He went and returned empty, the only result being his conviction that the emperor had played with him and meant to do so. This led to the alliance with the French. The sense of this will not be known until they see what the deputies to meet at Hamburg decide, supposing they ever arrange to meet.
Meanwhile each of the parties is aiming at an advantage. England pretends that France ought to make as great efforts for the restitution of the Palatine from interest as she does from consanguinity. France on her side seems to care little for such interests, and wants England in a declared war, which she can hardly undertake without parliament, a difficulty that swamps all other considerations. Thus if the agreement is facilitated it will be difficult to carry it out, unless Fortune turns very much against the House of Austria. If not it is to be feared that the Palatine will remain disinherited for ever, having against him three great powers, the emperor, Spain and Bavaria, while the allied forces, not being interested for themselves, or for things purely concerning them, but only for common interests, which do not constrain them so much as they ought. The chief attention of each of the parties is directed elsewhere France, fighting in Italy, on the frontiers of Spain, in Lorraine, Franche Comté and Picardy, the Dutch in the Netherlands and the Indies, and the Swedes, according to their fortune, practically in all Germany.
From what has been said your Serenity perceives the advantages and disadvantages of this monarchy. The advantages, a king without spot, born to war and to peace, an opulent realm full of a population naturally inclined to arms and consequently difficult to reduce. The disadvantages, the hurt of ruling by the old forms and the danger of new ones ; a religion which releases it from ecclesiastical subjection to the pope, but not from fears, has made them decide to live secure of it and not show themselves absolutely uncompromising. This causes a schism in the religion of the state. Yet I am persuaded that if his Majesty adopts gentle methods in his government and in religion, he will attain his ends. If he does no prince will be more powerful than he. In times past under the old arrangements England was able to act as arbiter among the greatest princes of Christendom, and this will be much more so under the new, when the king can decide by himself without having to apply to the purse and consequently to the authority of parliament. But happen what may, if he agrees with the people he will deliver himself from a great deal of trouble (Queen Elizabeth did what she liked by cajoling them), and if he does not, if he has patience to hollow out this stone drop by drop, he will become very rich, but will impoverish the people. The prince and the subject cannot both be rich at the same time. It is true that the subject will lose vigor to the hurt of the prince. That can only be kept perfectly green on the soil of liberty, and when affairs of state are made the business of everyone men have an inducement to devote their blood, life and goods freely to it, so that exceptional subjection is useful for peace and hurtful for war. From this I conclude that a prince who attempts, even with just cause, to reduce his subjects to servitude, who have been born under the laws of liberty, has a truly royal spirit and dares to the limits of daring, but he ought to realise that in doing so he is putting his state in a constant fever, rendering it turbulent, rebellious and greedy of change so that if he gives ear to the trite proverb not to leave the old way for the new, he may wonder whether his most generous resolutions are really the safest.
Richmond, the 24th October, 1637.